Obituary: Thomas J. Bontly
This Bayside resident passed away at age 72 after a 35-year career of teaching and creative writing. He wrote for big-name publications such as Esquire, McCall's and Redbook. The visitation will be held Thursday at St. Eugene Church.
Thomas J. Bontly passed away on Friday at the age of 72.
Born in Madison to Thomas L. Bontly and Mary H. Bontly (nee Hackett). Resident of Bayside. Beloved husband for 49 years of Marilyn Bontly (nee Mackie). Loving father of Thomas (Allison Ponce) Bontly. Proud grandfather of Adeline Bontly. Dear brother-in-law of Frederick (Mary) Mackie and uncle of Margaret Hanke. Further survived by many cousins, relatives, and good friends and colleagues.
Tom was a fiction writer and Professor Emeritus of English at UW-Milwaukee, where he taught literature and creative writing for 35 years. He published four novels (The Competitor, Adventures of a Young Outlaw, Celestial Chess, and The Giant’s Shadow) and numerous short stories, essays, and reviews in Esquire, McCall's, Redbook, Boy's Life, Sewanee Review, Cream City Review, Fiction Midwest, Wisconsin Review, and other publications. He was also a scholar of the writings of Henry James. Recently he was writing several pieces, including a novel based on Swiss immigrants in America.
Tom received his BA from UW-Madison in 1961 and his PhD from Stanford University in 1966, where he was a Wallace Stegner Creative Writing Fellow. He also attended Cambridge University (Corpus Christi College) as a Rotary fellow. At UW-Milwaukee, he chaired the English Department from 1979 to 1982 and was one of the founders of the Creative Writing Program, which he coordinated for many years. He supervised numerous PhD and MA theses. He won many awards for his work, including the Christopher Latham Scholes Award in 1998 for outstanding service and contributions to Wisconsin literature from the Council for Wisconsin Writers.
When he wasn’t writing, Tom enjoyed painting, fishing, golf, music, theater, travel, and puttering in his garden. But most of all he loved spending time with his dear wife Marilyn, his family and many friends.
Visitation will take place on Thursday from 9 to 11 a.m. at St. Eugene Catholic Church, 7600 N. Port Washington Road, followed by the celebration of the Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m. Interment will take place on Friday, at Highland Memorial Garden Cemetery in Madison.
Memorials in Tom’s name may be made to UWM Foundation (Att. Christina Makel), St. Eugene Congregation, or Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, 1111 E. Brown Deer Rd, Bayside, 53217.
Editor's Note: This obituary is courtesy of Feerick Funeral Home.